Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Marriage and Divorce 5


What about the all-important words of Jesus on divorce and remarriage? [I can’t say I agree with Luck in all that he says here.]
William F. Luck’s Divorce and Re-Marriage: Recovering the Biblical View   discusses Jesus’ teachings in two chps, and I’ll give the big conclusions below.
1. Jesus, Luck argues, affirms the OT teaching that covenant breaking is treachery and treachery in the heart is adultery. Thus, the proper grounds for divorce are covenant breaking and the contemporary conditions at Jesus’ time were too lax. (Luck misspells “Pharisaical” throughout these two chps.)
2. The man who illegitimately divorces his wife has committed treachery and “no remarriage need take place for this adultery to occur” (140). This man “adulterizes” his wife in divorcing her.
3. He takes the second saying — who ever marries a divorced woman commits adultery — as she has complied with Roman law with permitted morally groundless divorce and that law does not free her from the Torah’s laws about adultery.


4. The Pharisees, he argues, believed a divorce writ ended moral responsibility. The divorce writ can be a cloak that covers evil.
5. The legal obligations in such cases are over, yes, but the moral responsibility is not; that is, repentance is demanded. 
6. The second husband’s marriage to such a woman — who has treacherously broken covenant — constitutes adultery and he is participating in the woman’s treachery (141).
7. Permission was granted in order to lead the guilty partner to repentance and restoration. That is, Luck is big on saying divorce is primarily a disciplinary action.
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John W Frye

posted January 21, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Luck is getting a little ethereal now it seems to me. One did not get stoned for “treachery” in the OT, but for actual adultery. I do agree that the Pharisees used divorce “laws” to cover evil and I don’t think that aspect of the divorce tragedy has changed that much in this 21st century. As I alluded to earlier in this discussion, I’ve witnessed wiley, self-centered men using current evangelical divorce “laws” to perpetuate their sin. And some women today are just as evil.

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Ken Bussell

posted January 21, 2010 at 3:37 pm

I wrote an article recently related to this topic. In the article I ask why so many churches accept unrepentant divorcees and remarried couples into fellowship, but reject unrepentant LGBT persons and couples. It is a hypocrisy that needs examining.
You can

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posted January 22, 2010 at 8:56 am

tough stuff. At least the ?hardness of your hearts? part is pretty clear and has not changed much since the times of Moses.
Ken: I agree with you. All kinds of hetereosexual sin is winked at in many conservative churches ? but the LBGT community gets ostracized.
By-the-way, I don?t post here very often because the post feature is so unwieldy and the advertisements are relentless ?

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posted January 23, 2010 at 10:15 am

I preached on Jesus’ teaching on divorce last summer. One of the ideas I advanced was the difference between focusing on when it’s OK to divorce vs. focusing on God’s intention for marriage. I’m glad I married someone who is focused on God’s intention for marriage – two become one, share life together as equal partners, support, love, encourage one another, etc. Can’t imagine the treachery of living with someone in a marriage relationship when their focus is on when it’s OK for them to divorce me.
That said, broken people create messed up situations. Some of them are so tangled up that they can’t be untangled, so people move on. When they fall in love with someone else and pursue marriage, as a pastor, what I try to do is help them see the issues that led to their divorce as clearly as possible (especially their brokenness that led to the divorce). Then I try to help them get a positive view of marriage from God’s perspective (not overly simplistic or romanticized) as they consider the cost of entering into marriage a second time. I take that approach because I believe in mercy, grace, forgiveness, redemption, and second chances. There have been times where I didn’t end up performing the wedding. Other times when I’ve encourage people to seek reconciliation with their ex-spouse. And other times when I have participated in the marriage of the couple.
Even if we can nail down some sense of theological certainty on the matter (and I’m not saying we can) people’s lives rarely play along or fit nicely into those boxes. So, keeping in mind things like grace, we discern together how best to move forward in relationship with real people.
My two cents…

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